The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period.

While on leave, employees have the rights to keep the same employer-paid health benefits they had while they working. The California Family Rights Act was enacted in order to provide employees with work leave rights for reasons such as:

  • Birth of a child
  • Placement of the employee’s child through adoption or in a foster care home
  • A serious health condition incurred by the worker’s spouse, child, or parent
  • Serious health condition of the employee

Under the CFRA, the employer must provide leave for these reasons, as well as certain benefits. The employee is required to provide advanced notice when taking a CFRA leave. The law is similar in nature to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

What are Some Protections Provided by the CFRA?

The California Family Rights Act provides certain guidelines for both employees and employers regarding family-related work leave. For instance, under the CFRA:

  • Employers are not required to pay the employee, (unless otherwise stated in a valid contract under employment laws)
  • The employer must continue health care and other benefits during the leave
  • The employer may a grant total of up to 12 work weeks in a 12-month period
  • The employee must be reinstated to their previous position at the end of the leave period (although there are some legitimate reasons the employee may deny reinstatement)

Who is Eligible for a CFRA Leave? 

If you are a California employee who wants to take CFRA leave, you may be eligible to take leave if your employer is within the state of California and employs 50 or more part-time or full-time employees. You may also be eligible for CFRA leave if you are employed by the State of California or any of the state’s political and civil subdivisions, cities or counties even if they do not have more than 50 employees working.

The CFRA leave must be used to care for a newborn child, for placement of a child in your family for either adoption or foster care, or to care for a serious health condition of your own, your child, parent or spouse. Under CFRA, there conditions also apply to same-sex domestic partners.

What is Considered a Serious Health Conditions under CFRA Leave? 

Serious health conditions under a CFRA leave can be either illnesses, injuries or other conditions that involve in-patient care in a medical facility or residential healthcare facility, as well as continuing treatment or supervision by a healthcare provider.

What If My Employer Fired me After a CFRA Leave? 

Your employer could be violating California law if your employer fires or fails to reinstate your position after CFRA leave. Under the CFRA, employers are required to give you the same or comparable job back to you after you come back from CFRA leave. 

However, this would not apply if you are laid off because of a company downsize or your position ceases to exists when you return if it does not involve your CFRA leave.

Should I Hire an Employment Attorney?

Hiring a labor and employment attorney can help you determine what leave you can take and discuss the difference between federal and California laws.

If you feel that you have been mistreated by your employer while on leave or after returning because of your legally permissible family leave, a California attorney can also help you determine possible courses of action.